In our family, kiffles are something we enjoy every holiday season (Christmas and Easter). A kiffle is a Hungarian cookie with a flaky dough and a delicious filling, much beloved in the Lehigh Valley, brought here by the immigrants who worked the Steel industry and the textile factories.
They are highly prized and usually made in homes, although you can find them in grocery stores for an exorbitant price. They aren’t hard to make, but they are time-consuming. I find it easier to make them over time (like most labor intensive food), rather than devote the time necessary to make them all at once. The traditional fillings for kiffles are prune butter (lekvar), poppy and nut.
In our home, I make raspberry, and apricot plus the traditional. My recipe and techniques are from my dear friend, Lori. She makes them as a high school band fundraiser (go Liberty Grenadiers!) and also makes a delicious chocolate chip version. Lori’s recipe, and tips, which she graciously allowed me to share here, are gleaned from her experiences as a kiffle baker. She also learned from her by her patients, many elderly Hungarian and Slovak ladies.
Here is the recipe for the dough.
It is very rich and should be light and crumbly on the tongue. Make the dough first and let it rest in the refrigerator for 2 hours or more. When it is time to roll out the dough, let it come up to room temperature (it makes it easier to roll out).
Kiffle shapes vary from place to place. My shapes are a little less traditional. Some people form them like a thin cigar with the fruit/nut mixture in the middle. I’ve also seen them served as a soft crescent, so the kiffle looks like a rectangular tart. The dough is also a regional preference, I’ve seen doughs made with eggs, sour cream, yeast and even ice cream in the dough in addition to the cream cheese and butter. I like to keep things simple.These are delicious.
I place my filled cookies on a Silpat although you can easily use parchment paper about 2 inches apart.You want them barely golden, just around the edges. Cool them on a cookie rack and then gently dust them with confectioner’s/icing/powdered sugar. Enjoy this taste of Pennsylvania.
kiffles ripe for the taking
If you would like to read more about the kiffles and want some additional recipes for comparison, check out the following: